January 10, 2005

Hands Off Bin Laden?

I never thought much of the CIA, and I still don’t. Articles like this one in the Times of London don’t inspire much confidence.

THE world may be better off if Osama Bin Laden remains at large, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s recently departed executive director.

If the world’s most wanted terrorist is captured or killed, a power struggle among his Al-Qaeda subordinates may trigger a wave of terror attacks, said AB “Buzzy” Krongard, who stepped down six weeks ago as the CIA’s third most senior executive.

“You can make the argument that we’re better off with him (at large),” Krongard said. “Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror.”
This little theory relies on the assumption that Al Qaeda is restraining itself at the moment. Otherwise, it’s absolute nonsense. Bin Laden’s buddies are already “unleashing a stream of terror.” They don’t need any more encouragement than they already have.
Several US officials have privately admitted that it may be better to keep Bin Laden pinned down on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than make him a martyr or put him on trial. But Krongard is the most senior figure to acknowledge publicly that his capture might prove counter-productive.
Turning bin Laden into a martyr might not be ideal. But it sure beats leaving him alone so he can go on being a hero. Want to take care of bin Laden? Vanish him from the face of the earth. Turn him into the Jimmy Hoffa of terrorists.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 10, 2005 04:56 PM

Comments

There's an interesting echo here of what I'd call the Scowcroft approach to foreign policy: Better a nasty stability, than change we might not be able to control.

Posted by: JPS at January 10, 2005 05:02 PM

Vanish him from the face of the earth. Turn him into the Jimmy Hoffa of terrorists.

One of your keyboard rant moments, I suspect, old boy.

Seriouslt though, one has to consider why Bin Laden has not been tracked down so far. It's not through want of trying.

And behind this talk there are elements of truth, which in your bloodlust you do not acknowledge.

Bin Laden is a figurehead who quite likely had little to do with the planning and implementation of 9/11.

Actually there are probably much more dangerous terrorists about, and hetting rid of Bin Laden would probably make little difference, at best.

At worst, the CIA's executive director might be right.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 10, 2005 05:23 PM

Hey, I'm just glad that someone, somewhere is at least vaguely attempting to determine what the consequences of our actions might be before we take them. I think he's probably wrong, but (a) who am I to judge? and (b) it's a giant step in the right direction.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 10, 2005 05:27 PM

Benjamin,

Bloodlust? Moi? For hoping Osama bin Laden vanishes? Please. Give the pacifism a rest once in a while.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 10, 2005 05:30 PM

Look what happened to Hamas after Israel knocked off almost every leader they had. Ahmed Yassin might be a martyr, but Hamas has been very much weakened, and can hardly carry out an attack any longer.

Posted by: Josh at January 10, 2005 05:30 PM

I'm no expert on the psyche of would be Islamic terrorists and I'm sure that others will jump in if I'm wrong ...

But if and when Bin Laden is captured, wouldn't the best thing be to show him as deeply and publicly humiliated?

... and then dead?

Posted by: Steve M at January 10, 2005 05:31 PM

Nice one, Michael.

The rest of these comments will be filled be with fantasies about what terrible things should be done to Bin Laden if he is captured etc.

Will any of the issues around what the CIA executive director was saying be discussed? There are certainly serious issues there, that need more thought than mere condemnation.

Of course, you could all prove me wrong.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 10, 2005 05:44 PM

I'm all for no more Bin Laden. In fact, I'm all for no more (insert several million names here). Less stupid, psychotic or just plain insane monkeys on the planet is GOOD.

However, we should keep two things in mind.

1. OBL the man is just a dude with charisma. Anyone can do what he's done, killing indiscriminately is easy (if you have the reality tunnel for the job). Killing him doesn't rid the world of a criminal mastermind, it rids the world of a charismatic religious nut. He can easily be replaced. I am told that most countries keep a stock of charismatic religious nuts for just such emergencies.

2. OBL the Terrorist holds a lot of "power" in the minds of his followers. Being the stupid monkeys that they are, they assume that they deserve the "power" (Kinda like Corproate America... except there are more deaths 'fessed up to in Al Q). If OBL takes a dive, we should expect some real messes to start.

3.
"This little theory relies on the assumption that Al Qaeda is restraining itself at the moment. Otherwise, it’s absolute nonsense. Bin Laden’s buddies are already “unleashing a stream of terror.” They don’t need any more encouragement than they already have."

Huh?

Al Qaeda hasn't claimed responsibility for anything lately. This sort of thinking would be fine, if we were discussing a war with the Soviets or the Nazis. Al Q isn't an organized group in that way. There are over three dozen different terrorist groups that sort of loosly hang together to form Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda isn't throwing everything at us, a couple terrorist groups here and there and in Iraq are attacking us... but thats not nearly the same thing.

In conclusion, I think Buzzy is an idiot. Letting Bin Laden get away is not going to help matters. However, Buzzy does bring one glimmer of intellect to the table, once OBL is out, expect the shit to hit the fan (for awhile at least).

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 10, 2005 05:54 PM

Tosk, I don't see you making the case that there is any shit to spare for the day OBL cashes in.
Is there any evidence OBL is actively restraining activity? Maybe to build up resources for a future Big Hit?
Are the bad guys not doing their level best now?If not, why not, and how do you know?
IMO, OBL might be a better recruiting figure for a mid-level boss than the boss would be on his own.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at January 10, 2005 06:26 PM

This op-ed suggests that we should negotiate with bin Laden. My gosh.

Posted by: Todd Pearson at January 10, 2005 06:26 PM

I can’t believe it! They’re using the same con that the Palestinians use, comparing someone like Arafat to psychos like Hamas to prove that the lesser evil is ‘moderate’. Compared to Hamas’ psychotic/fascist delusions of grandeur, Arafat was a moderate. So is Charles Manson. That doesn’t mean that Manson is a statesman.

Compared to the more radical psychotic/fascist elements in Al Qaeda, bin Laden is somewhat stable. That doesn’t mean he can be negotiated with, or that we should let him live. If we’re fighting a war against an enemy, it sort of goes without saying that you kill the enemy. In a war against terrorism, bin Laden is a reasonable and necessary target.

I don’t understand why our government (and every other government in the world) keeps falling for the same old con. But, people still fall for pyramid schemes, so it’s not too surprising.

Posted by: mary at January 10, 2005 07:10 PM

OBL is at least an inspiration to the jihadis if nothing else. I would guess that he is in no hurry to try to pull off another big one. It may take years to hatch a plan that does him proud. I can't imagine anything else satisfying him.

In that context, we had better find him and eliminate him before things get too far down that path.

Taking out OBL will only cause a hiccup in the war on Islamofacism however. The breeding grounds are still fertile as long as ME mosques preach their hatred and violence every weekend. Maybe radical mullahs will make good targets in the meantime. I wonder if a little taste of their own medicine would help turn the tide.

Posted by: sammy small at January 10, 2005 07:15 PM

Vanish him from the face of the earth. Turn him into the Jimmy Hoffa of terrorists.

Nah, then he becomes immortal, like Elvis. Better to put him in a bright orange jumpsuit and hold him with the rest of the garbage in Guantanamo. Don't treat him any better or worse. Show the world pictures of him tending to his little prison garden, or playing foozeball or whatever people do in jail. Demystify him.

Posted by: David at January 10, 2005 07:18 PM

hold him with the rest of the garbage in Guantanamo.

From such casual statements can we understand the assumptions that some hold.

Are you saying that all those held in Guantanamo Bay are "garbage". If not, what percentage?

What evidence do you have that they are terrorists/garbage?

Those held in Guantanamo Bay are being held as suspects.

Few, if any, charges have yet been brought, no convictions been secured.

Many, indeed, have been released. I put it to you, sir, that fact alone says something, does it not it not?

I would like to see your evidence that these people are "garbage". I am not denying that some could be.

But your casual use of the word "garbage" carries with it legal and moral inexactitude.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 10, 2005 08:11 PM

Michael -

Sometimes I question whether the CIA as a whole can muster as much as an ounce of common sense. Your commentary may assume too much.

Posted by: Ben at January 10, 2005 08:17 PM

Benjamin -

Those in Guantanamo are not being held as suspects. They are being held as unlawful enemy combatants. This is not an exercise in law enforcement - it is a war. Those in Cuba were found fighting in contravention of the Geneva Convention and are entitled to no protection as POWs. Similarly, they are not entitled to rights as criminals in the US criminal justice system. They are entitled to nothing whatsoever, and under the laws of war most could be summarily executed. That we have so far suffered the continued existence of these rabid dogs on this mortal coil says much about us and absolutely nothing about them.

Posted by: Ben at January 10, 2005 08:23 PM

Careful, David. You might offend Benjamin's delicate sensibilities. I mean, Ben thinks that Michael is filled with "bloodlust." Your opinions might give him a stroke.

And Ben, the word "garbage" is a statement of opinion. There can be none of the proof you are requesting of David, since his calling the Gitmo prisoners garbage is an opinion.

One I happen to agree with. I mean, I know I'm supposed to get all weepy when I consider the deep human misery of the poor people imprisoned at Guantanamo. I'm supposed to demand that they receive the best care, access to the US legal system, three halal squares a day, and free subscriptions to Hot Babes in Burqas Monthly.

Yet I don't care. Not even a little. Let 'em rot. Oh, and as far as "bloodlust" goes, I'm pretty sure I can beat Michael at that. If presented the opportunity, I'd shove bin Laden feet first into a wood chipper. Without a trial.

And sleep well that night.

Posted by: Big Brother at January 10, 2005 08:26 PM

By the way, I was addressing Benjamin when I said "Ben," not, er, Ben.

My head hurts. ;-)

Posted by: Big Brother at January 10, 2005 08:28 PM

Ben

Certainly you do not speak official policy. According to the US govt they have charges to face, and some have already been released - proving the simple fact that they obviously are not all unlawful combatants/terrorists.

There has to be some legal mecahanism to verify their status and level of guilt, now it has been decided, much to your chagrin, that they will not be simply slaughtered.

Your faith in govt is touching, but governments are fallible. Thats why we need to have oversight and accountability, and the law. Because govts are fallible.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 10, 2005 08:38 PM

Had this logic been in place 60 years ago, we would all now be living in Germany.

Posted by: Neo at January 10, 2005 08:41 PM

I would like to see your evidence that these people are "garbage". I am not denying that some could be.

Benjamin,

you won't deny "some could be" garbage? Good. It's a start.

Then I won't deny that some might NOT be.

Posted by: David at January 10, 2005 08:42 PM

I have no special brief for Porter Goss; but even his critics have to concede that the CIA is deeply flawed, and has been for decades.

Bin Laden among other things was the man who set in motion the 9/11 attacks; he did not plan the details in every respect but did indeed personally approve ALL the hijackers. To suggest he's not responsible shows the absolute moral bankruptcy of the left.

What does bin Laden deserve in the name of justice? For one thing he should be made to face his victims' families; to be confronted by them (including the African victims) just like Goering and the other Nazis had to face their victims. Then, being hanged publicly after a military tribunal (that is fair) inevitably finds him guilty.

Just like the very real deeds of the Nazis had to be shown; so must Al Qaeda's and bin Laden's personally. That a former CIA official would suggest that "stability" should over-ride the interests of justice shows the absolute idiocy of the old approach by both Parties.

As for bin Laden himself, seeing as how he was involved in a pattern of infrequent but massive and escalating attacks on the US; removing him by trying and hanging him would be the equivalent of trying and shooting Hitler in 1943. It would not end the war but would drastically shorten it.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 10, 2005 09:21 PM

Had this logic been in place 60 years ago, we would all now be living in Germany.

Had this logic been in place 60 years ago, we would have entered the war on Germany's side.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 10, 2005 11:45 PM

So you asking innocent men to give up a free life then, in Guantanamo. That's the truth of what you are saying. That should not be the stance of conservatives.

Please note that some have already been released, including British men, who were wholly innocent of any offence, including unlawful combat.

But it took a lot of haggling by Blair and lawyers to get their release. The Americans were prepared to destroy the lives of these innocent British men.

All I am asking, as a fellow British citizen, is that all citizens be treated fairly and equally in Guantanamo. That a procedure be set up to release the innocent, and those who stand trial receive fair aand transparent trial procedures. As a Brit, I thought that was the American way.

Am I wrong?

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 12:14 AM

My fear is that the CIA has become a deeply conservative (in a very bad sense) institutution. Better the bloddy mess you think you understand than anything else.

I'm sure good people work there. Close it down and provide counseling for anyone who wants it. (And if you don't think entities exist to take over the functions, three words: No Such Agency.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at January 11, 2005 12:33 AM

Too bad we, and our allies who did most of the real fighting, missed OBL in Tora Bora.

Too bad we don't know where he is.

On the one hand, Michael is absolutely right, OBL should be a target of justice. He deserves capture, humiliation, and public execution -- and the implantation of MORE doubt in the minds of potential Islamofascists.

In weak defense of the CIA position: (if history shows my desire to capture OBL immediately is wrong it is because ...) it seems we (=CIA plus intel) don't know where OBL is, but we have some ways of learning more about AQ through communication interceptions. Maybe we DO know he's in Iran, say, and as long as he's alive, he is the focus of communication, so we have a GREATER chance of learning about the 'subordinate' plans. Since they communicate with the 'great leader'. Were OBL to be knocked off, the subordinates would stop communicating with him, and just do the stuff they're planning.

In a free society, there's no realistic way to stop a single individual, with the skills and mindset, from becoming a human guided explosive suicide bomb/ small plane guided missile. It's a LOT easier, but still hard, to stop an organization, because of the leaky communication. Of course, failure to stop an organization is usually a lot worse than failure to stop an individual.

On Torture. After 1 Feb., I expect the newly elected, majority Shi'a Iraq gov't, to take over the Iraq prisons. And bring back Arab standards of interrogation to the innocent, possibly guilty, and proven guilty terrorists.

Letting all the prolly guilty but w/o enough evidence to convict folk at Gitmo free seems like an example of US weakness, like failing to kill OBL, or failing to gather any useful intel from prisoners (due to wimpy interrogation) -- and it is US weakness that is the biggest recruit argument for A Q. But the changing political environment, of increasing democracy (credit to W and the US), will suck the oxygen out of the rebel movements.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 11, 2005 12:34 AM

From today's news:

"Four Britons held by the US in Guantanamo Bay could be returned to the UK within days, US defence sources say.

Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham [UK], and Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and Feroz Abbasi, from London, have been held by the US for more than two years....

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We have been in regular contact with the US over the four British detainees.

We have made clear that either the detainees should be tried in accordance with international standards or returned home"...."

But of course to some here these people are just "garbage", or "rabid dogs".

I got news for you. These British people are a lot more than rabid dogs or garbage.

They are a lot more than that to me, as a Brit.

They are a lot more than that to the British government.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 12:40 AM

I can believe there were wholly innocent men in Gitmo; but there might well NOT be any. I DO believe there are guilty men, for whom there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt.

OJ was found "not guilty" -- we don't have a normal procedure for determining innocence (which is why we presume it).

Any justice system has two errors: innocents falsely held/ treated as guilty; and guilty falsely released as innocent. Relative to Gitmo, they are wise to minimise the false innocent releases -- you prolly have heard that some who WERE released were found (dead?) fighting against the Coalition.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 11, 2005 01:00 AM

How and where were this "innocent" men captured? Why did the US even hold them? (Why don't you know? -- I don't think the US gov't is acting too badly here, so I'm not following it so closely.)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 11, 2005 01:11 AM

Tom Grey

Some background on the Guantanamo Bay Britons...

a.k.a "rabid dogs" and "garbage".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3089395.stm

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 01:29 AM

This CIA logic is absolutely insane, even from a strictly "realist" Scowcroft point of view. The day we take out Osama bin Laden is the day he stops constantly churning out propaganda tapes to Al-Jazeera. Someone earlier in this thread mentioned that bin Laden is merely a figurehead. Adolf Hitler was a figurehead, too. Figureheads matter. For both principled and practical reasons, the man needs to die a bloody death at the hands of the United States Marine Corps as soon as possible...end of story.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 11, 2005 01:58 AM

Grant McEntire

Mike Godwin was right, especially about Michael Totten's blog discussions! There are enough dodgy references to Nazis in this thread to make it a case study - in an attempt to "win" the argument make a Nazi comparison.

Just take your comparson as an example. Hitler was certainly not just a figurehead. He was dictator with his hands on the levers of power of a modern nation state.

Whatever you say about Bin Laden he certainly is not that.

What one can say about Bin Laden is that he in some way involved in the planning of 9/11, but almost certainly not in a detailed manner. His is an ideologue too. He is also a figurehead - both for the Americans and the Jihadists - but it's debatable what exactly will happen if he died. It seems to me there are quite a few options in that regard, and the CIA could be right in their assessment.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 04:07 AM

Benjamin might as well save Islamofascist the trouble of having to knife him in the gut for being an infidel by knifing his own self in the gut. Would help to moveon.org the quest for Eurabia submission much faster.

Don't forget to scream mercy and your thoughts on humanity on the way out.

And, leave a note for everyone else to obey.

Posted by: syn at January 11, 2005 05:18 AM

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Bin Laden MUST be sodomized. He must be sodomized and humiliated before he is executed. It must be made public in the most graphic manner possible, regardless of the condemnation such an act would elicit from the international community and the lunatic fringe of the left here at home. It would be the only way to demystify him and prevent him from ever achieving martyr status, and at the same time, show the world we mean business.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at January 11, 2005 05:31 AM

syn

Ah, now you are starting on me. Interesting mentality you have there, if one can even call it a mentality.

What I am saying should not be controversial.
But I am not indulging in pointless and juvenile fantasies about what to do with Bin Laden if he is captured.

I am only saying that the innocent must be released from Guantanamo Bay, including those innocent British citizens, and those that do face trial must receive fair and transparent court proceedings.

What have I said about Bin Laden that is not true? I refuse to indulge in pointless and innacurate comparisons with Hitler.

We can all agree that Bin Laden is a bad man, but the real world outside the rarified air of the stateside blogosphere is a different place. That's life.

Dirty reality has a habit of intruding into fantasists pipe dreams, including neo-con ones.
Get real.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 07:02 AM

Personally I'd like to see him captured, even if he doesn't know much about the day-to-day operations of AQ. But, if we did try to capture him and he ended up being killed in the process I wouldn't shed any tears.

Posted by: sam at January 11, 2005 07:10 AM

But wasn't Osama effectively "disappeared" until he released that tape in October?

I don't think that disappearing the guy is the solution. Osama in chains on national/global television is the solution. Or, at least, it's better than what we had in 2003.

Posted by: Jaybird at January 11, 2005 07:12 AM

Pretty confident you know all about bin Laden, eh Michael?

Posted by: David Sucher at January 11, 2005 07:35 AM

Nice post MJT. Our CIA is guilty of malpractice. Sure they are pretty good with signal and technical intelligence, but they are incompetent at human intelligence and basic strategic analysis. Recently, I heard a CIA agent say that Al Quada cannot be infiltrated. Does anyone remember John Walker Lindh, AKA Johnny Jihad?

Because of the CIA, people still think that it is impossible that Saddam would have cooperated with Islamic terrorists. After all, their ideologies conflict at times. By that logic, it was impossible for the Soviet Union to ally with the United States.

Seriously, these are the people who are in charge of gathering intelligence. Scarry.

Have you ever heard about a business reorganizing where they fire everyone in a certain department and ask them all to reapply for the job? This is what needs to be done with the CIA.

It is to Bush's discredit that he has not made them more accountable.

Posted by: JBP at January 11, 2005 08:46 AM

Richard Aubery,

Tosk, I don't see you making the case that there is any shit to spare for the day OBL cashes in.
Is there any evidence OBL is actively restraining activity? Maybe to build up resources for a future Big Hit? Are the bad guys not doing their level best now?If not, why not, and how do you know?

Firstly, there is no way that I, nor anyone else can truly know the full extent of AQ's resources. We do know that AQ is made up of over 36 different groups which are only loosely affiliated. These groups are all over the world, not just in the Middle East.

Secondly, the historical evidence, so far, indicates that AQ has never maintained a constant state of war. They strike, disappear and wait a few years to strike again. When they do strike the next time, its usually in a different part of the world (likely by a different group in the alliance). They declared war on us a number of years ago. Since then, they seem to be content to hit and run.

Thirdly, the majority of fighters captured or killed in Iraq are Iraqis. Al Qeada did not have a strong Iraqi presence before 2002. Therefore, we can surmise that most of these Iraqis are a) not AQ, or b) new recruits. QED - the forces we are facing in Iraq are not "everything AQ has to throw at us".

Fourth - We do not even know if Bin Laden is attacking us. For all we know, he and his entire group could be calmly hiding, waiting to strike at a later date.

The following is my personal view, I do not have evidence to prove or disprove any of this:

There are two ways to make your opponent fall down in a tug of war. If you have the physical strength, you can pull your opponent over. If you do not have the physical strength, you can wait until your opponent starts pulling, and then let go. Their own weight will plop them on their ass. If I were a religious fruitcake, bent on terrorizing the biggest, baddest country on the planet... I'd take the "let go" option. I would realize that there is no way in hell that I can match, solider for solider. Even if I could match man for man, I couldn't match equipment, arms or armor. It's a no-win situation.

What I would do, would be to strike, get the enemy to commit forces and finances, then let entropy do the rest. I wouldn't worry about the situation in Iraq too much. After all, the Sunnis seem to be doing a fine job of terrorism. If they want to do it in my name, so much the better. If I send a few good men to help organize and train the internal insurgents, maybe send over some generic "I Love Allah" suicide guys for inspiration and BAM, a big mess that I don't have to deal with, but that will tie up the enemy for some time.

Leaving me free to plot.
-----
Just because we invaded Afganistan and Iraq, doesn't necessarily mean that Bin Laden has decided to meet us on the battlefield. Direct small arms combat have never been his style, that doesn't invoke terror, it demystifies the shroud over the terrorist. Suddenly the terrorist is just that ass over there with a gun, as opposed to the innocent looking citizen, anywhere around you.

At the very least, the toppling of Bin Laden will create a power vaccum. Bin Laden gets his power from his reputation. We aren't going to see AQ hold general elections, appoint a interim leader or anything like that. Someone with charisma, oratory skills and a reputation will eventually become foremost among the AQ groups.

I shudder to think how they plan on earning those reputations.

That doesn't change the fact that we need to get OBL, alive or dead. We should just be prepared for a bit of Inter-Mafia style power grabbing, and be ready to dodge the crossfire(Esp. if the weapon of choice is a 747).

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 11, 2005 09:05 AM

JBP,

I didn’t want to directly address Totten’s original summation of the CIA, because I don’t think any of us civilians are qualified or informed enough, but with a comment like yours I’m afraid I’m going to have to play the game of devil’s advocate.

Now perhaps Totten was right in his assessment that it’s dangerous for the CIA to give up on catching Bin Laden, but who’s to say they have? How do we know they’re not just saying they’ve given up so that the evildoers think the heat is off? Same goes for your comment. The CIA says that Al Qaeda cannot be infiltrated, but they could be lying. We might already have someone on the inside. In which case, you can see how valuable it would be for the enemy to think we’ve given up.

This game of intelligence is a game of deception. We’ve got our poker faces on and we have to be careful not to reveal our hand. This is deadly business, and it’s little presumptuous for us to think we have all the facts.

With all that said, I hope the CIA have not given up on Bin Laden. Nevertheless, I’m quite confident that they’re doing the best they can with the information they have -- information that is not available to you and me.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at January 11, 2005 09:10 AM

The CIA is like the spoiled rich kid who sucks at football, but wants to play quarterback so bad his Daddy makes the coach give him playing time. If you want to gain a bit of insight of how inept an less capable this CIA is comparaed to some of our other resources operating in the region read Robin Moore's "The Hunt for Bin Laden".

I'm not a fan of cronyism, and I don't know much about Porter Goss other than the fact that he's a dog happy to be on his master's leash, but the liberals whining about his sweep of the organization is assinine.

As D.O.D. is dominated by Conservatives, CIA, FBI, and some of State are dominated by Liberal minded people. They hate to see their guys routed out; but simply by the statements above, it would appear that change is a good thing.

Bottom line, this outfit needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Posted by: Mike at January 11, 2005 09:14 AM

Bin Laden is a figurehead who quite likely had little to do with the planning and implementation of 9/11.

Benjamin,

Do you know nothing of Bin Laden, the man is trained and highly skilled in his family's trade, Construction. He did his research and knew exactly how to bring those buildings down. To deny his obvious comparisons to Hitler is to forget the lessons of History.

Just ask Orwell, he'll tell you....

Posted by: Mike at January 11, 2005 09:23 AM

Benjamin,
Unless you are willing to disbelieve the 9/11 Committee report (which wouldn't surprise me), then you must accept that Bin Laden was intimately involved with the planning and implementation of the 9/11 attack; including hand-picking some of the perpetrators. He states in one of his videos that they hoped that the fuel would cause a fire hot enough to melt the structural steel and thus cause collapse. The captured Sheik Khalid stated that he came up with the original idea, but that OBL modified it by narrowing the focus. His central role in 9/11 is far from speculation, even by his own admission (though it took a while).
Now, why would you disbelieve this report. I think you would because it would weaken your argument that OBL is just a Goldberg-like boogey man that the U.S. uses to justify bad things. He is in fact a criminal mastermind and genius and his death or capture would seriouly undermine AQ. Would there be a backlash or a new leader, possibly; but those are speculation. OBL's role as a criminal leader is not. Diminishing his role in arguments serves no purpose other than for argument against the U.S.

Is he is to die (though I prefer the humiliation/inteligence of capture), I will celebrate it.

Posted by: Scott at January 11, 2005 09:39 AM

We don't want to kill him, we've got a nice cozy place called Alcatraz, and a dungeon with his name on it, just waiting for him.

It' been abandoned since the sixties so I'm figuring the rats are the size of pitbulls by now. They'll enjoy their new playmate.

Posted by: Mike at January 11, 2005 09:46 AM

In the end, its just a theory. If anything has been wrong with the CIA in the past, it is its conformity. It is healthy for many competing views (within the CIA, maybe not in public) to be aired, even when such views are wildly improbable on occasion.

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 09:58 AM

Spot on Michael. I for one would like to see him captured in the same manner as sodomite insane. In a hole, looking like death warmed over. In fact, I would love to see our female GI's capture him and put him in chains. What an outcry that would provoke across the muslim world. Poetic justice for the murdering coward.

Posted by: Theresa at January 11, 2005 10:42 AM

He's already been captured and this is just disinformation.

Or he hasn't and it isn't.

I don't know.

Posted by: John Davies at January 11, 2005 11:12 AM

What on earth is anyone doing writing about public pronouncements (whether direct or by proxy) by the CIA?
One of their stocks in trade is disinformation (toward the US public as much as anyone) and anything that comes from them has to be considered in that light (which means much more verbiage and different alternatives than most sane people can stand in a weblog).

Posted by: Michael Farris at January 11, 2005 12:57 PM

I got news for you. These British people are a lot more than rabid dogs or garbage.

They're not even real Brits. They're the kind of immigrants that are ruining your country and Europe in general, turning it into Eurabia.

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 01:01 PM

David,

They're not even real Brits. They're the kind of immigrants that are ruining your country and Europe in general, turning it into Eurabia.

Come on, you're better than stereotyped xenophobia.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 11, 2005 01:09 PM

Come on, you're better than stereotyped xenophobia.

If they're travelling to Afghanistan to "find themselves" only to come back as jihadis, then maybe it's not a "stereotype."

If immigrants don't like their host countries, then get the fuck out and stay out.

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 01:23 PM

David,

I agree that some of the immigrants are probably jihadists. I also agree that one should not move to a country then proceed to use terror tactics to force ther country to do one thing or another.

However, I have no idea how many in GitMo were of this sort and how many innocents got caught in the net. Your post was just surprisingly blanketing the entire group as evil immigrants.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 11, 2005 01:40 PM

Your post was just surprisingly blanketing the entire group as evil immigrants.

Let's just say it takes more than a visa or some other piece of paper to make you a Brit or an American, or a Saudi for that matter. It begins, at the very least, with loyalty to the country that has welcomed you. That is ESPECIALLY so for naturalized citizens. In the case of Eurabia, if you don't like the West as you found it, then get your immigrant ass back where it came from until you've had a change of attitude.

rant over

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 01:47 PM

David,

I agree wholeheartedly. As long as we keep in mind that it takes more than genetics and religion to make one a terrorist, jihadist etc.

If we agree on that, then we agree. :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 11, 2005 02:03 PM

Kay Hoog: Now perhaps Totten was right in his assessment that it’s dangerous for the CIA to give up on catching Bin Laden, but who’s to say they have? How do we know they’re not just saying they’ve given up so that the evildoers think the heat is off? Same goes for your comment. The CIA says that Al Qaeda cannot be infiltrated, but they could be lying. We might already have someone on the inside. In which case, you can see how valuable it would be for the enemy to think we’ve given up.

Good points. I sometimes forget about that particular angle.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 11, 2005 03:04 PM

"If I were a religious fruitcake, bent on terrorizing the biggest, baddest country on the planet... I'd take the "let go" option. I would realize that there is no way in hell that I can match, solider for solider. Even if I could match man for man, I couldn't match equipment, arms or armor. It's a no-win situation."

While I normally agree with you, Tosk, I think you're off-base here. Religious fruitcakes like OBL don't realize they're overmatched. They figure they have the ultimate ally -- God. They honestly think that their holy warriors will triumph militarily over the infidels. Just look at Yassin, who went to his grave convinced of that despite half a century of Israelis kicking Palestinian ass.
You might well employ a strategy like writing off Iraq, but you're a relatively sane, sensible guy (as far as I can tell, anyway ;>). OBL is a megalomanical demagogue leading a band of machismo-obsessed nuts. Remember also his views on the importance of being seen as a strong horse. He's named Zarqawi his 'emir' in Iraq. If Zarqawi loses, OBL loses that much more face -- and probably that much more of an already tenuous grip on reality.
I do agree, however, that he needs to be publically captured/killed.

Posted by: Achillea at January 11, 2005 03:37 PM

OBL isn't trying to match us militarily--he's not stupid just because he's a fanatic.

He's trying to 1) show us up as a paper tiger; and/or 2) instigate a muslijm uprising againt pro-US arab governments to create his Caliphate.

So far he's failed on both accounts (except for the sunni triangle).

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 03:46 PM

David

They're not even real Brits. They're the kind of immigrants that are ruining your country and Europe in general, turning it into Eurabia.

Fucking idiot.

These people ARE real Brits, JUST LIKE ME, Britain is a nation of immigrants, and what is more they are innocent of all charges.

FACT: They have ALL the rights of British citizens, and Blair and the British govt have fought for their rights as opposed to prejudiced people like you.

So this war is against Muslims?

If I believed this pathetic, pea-brained, prejudiced, numbskulled, neanderthal and moronic view held sway in America at large, I would despair, quite frankly.

Thankfully even the US govt is not as deeply moronic as you. And that's saying something.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 05:29 PM

David

Another fact you:

British Muslims are overwhealmingly peace loving people, contribute to British society in a positive manner, the British Exchequer, and run successful businesses and organisations throughout Britain.

Unlike you, I have lived within a British Muslim community for several years. I am far more qualified to talk on this matter than you. I have British Muslim friends.

Your views are pig ignorant, repugnant, and run directly against ALL intelligent mainstream opinion in the UK.

The fact that Michael Totten expresses no comment on your repugnant views speaks volumes and puts his blog in a new light for me

I understand more clearly what Michael Totten's real agenda is now, and it goes well beyond commonly expressed neo-conservatism.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 05:41 PM

Benjamin: I understand more clearly what Michael Totten's real agenda is now

Tell me what it is, wise one.

Read this first.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 11, 2005 05:55 PM

By the way, Benjamin, David wasn't referring to "Muslim immigrants" causing problems in Britain, he was referring to people scooped up off a battlefield in Afghanistan. You're acting as though he's trashing a random corner grocer from Yemen.

I do think "Eurarabia" is a hysterical and overwrought term, but I've argued with David for his sweeping generalizations and overblown rhetoric for somewhere around a year or so now. Ask him. He'll tell you.

I'm more likely to argue with you than I am to argue with him these days, but that's because you are more likely to make ridiculous comments about me personally.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 11, 2005 06:02 PM

Your views are pig ignorant, repugnant, and run directly against ALL intelligent mainstream opinion in the UK.

But apparently not against all intelligent mainstream opinion in the Netherlands. They must be pig ignorant. Germany's having second thoughts too. Ignorant fools.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/11/10/news/dutch.html

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 06:07 PM

After a careful read of all the preceding posts I think the most useful observation I can make is that the CIA was born of field operators, matured as an effective agency sometime in the early fifties, suffered from turf battles/mission creep/acts of politically motivated chief executives and legislators and began losing effectiveness at a precipitous rate during the early sixties.

The Church Committee might have done some good if the congressmen hadn't been bent on achieving popularity points. The aftermath of the Church committee cemented the CYA culture in place at Langley. That was a quarter of a century ago.

I can't damn the CIA all by itself; they are a subsidiary agency of the executive and have more focused oversight from the legislative branch than anyone but Justice.

It's hard to be one of Kipling's Rough Men when you know leadership would much rather you submit a well written opinion vice actually conduct field work that might show up on 60 Minutes.

I hope that Mr. Goss is successful. Four wheels, all round, makes the wagon go, you know. We need all our assets working. Time fills.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 11, 2005 06:24 PM

I just wanted to mention that Krongard was never a CIA officer. He was a banker and a friend of Tenet's. He was appointed by Tenet to an administrative position in 1998.
I'd guess that most of CIA thinks his notion is as loopy as we do.

Posted by: John T at January 11, 2005 06:28 PM

Intelligent mainstream opinion in the U.K...

That would be the folks who elected Galloway, I take it?

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 11, 2005 06:31 PM

Michael

Fair enough.

I will take your word for it. I have not been around for that long here, only pop in from time to time.

However, David's original comment was:

"They're not even real Brits. They're the kind of immigrants that are ruining your country and Europe in general, turning it into Eurabia."

"Type of immigrants": Muslim, quite possibly from Pakistan, other Muslim countries, "ruining the UK' (my country.)

There is no other way to read David's original comment, because "immigrant" in this context has a wider meaning.

Why? Because those people are NOT immigrants into the UK by dint of being picked up by US forces.

They (assuming they are immigrants anyway) were IMMIGRANTS before that.

So you are flat wrong on that, Michael.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 06:34 PM

Wow Benjamin...you're like the international I-feel-your-pain-inator...

Posted by: Raymond at January 11, 2005 06:44 PM

Unlike you, I have lived within a British Muslim community for several years.

Benjamin,

Did they all make their annual pilgrimage to Afghanistan too?

The "Brits" in Guantanamo were caught in Afghanistan, so the innocent, peace-loving muslim shopkeeper line is hard to swallow. Face it, you're a breeding ground for terrorists, and we will eventually pay the price for it here in the U.S., and soon. If you don't take care of your business then we have to. And it means that we end up taking the heat and world vitriol for problems you are unable/unwilling to attend do.

"Londonistan"

http://www.ict.org.il/articles/articledet.cfm?articleid=494

and ps., my comments are my own, not Michael's.

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 07:16 PM

David

There has never been anything illegal about travelling to Afghanistan.

One of these men was picked up by the US authorities after he was discovered in a Kandahar prison. He had been put there by.... the Taleban.

In addition, British legal authorities found the detention of Feroz Abbasi as "legally objectionable".

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 07:36 PM

>>>"There has never been anything illegal about travelling to Afghanistan."

Benjamin,

Taking flying lessons on flight simulators isn't illegal either, so what the hell does "legal" have to do with it?

You obviously don't get it, and that's why we have a problem here. They're breeding right under your nose.

And the fact that the Taleban locked up one of those goofballs is irrelevant. They thought he was a British spy. They were wrong.

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 07:41 PM

David

Taking flying lessons on flight simulators isn't illegal either, so what the hell does "legal" have to do with it?

Quite a lot. Because you can't just lock people up for legally travelling to another country. You have to find out - accurately - what they were doing there. Which leads me neatly to....

And the fact that the Taleban locked up one of those goofballs is irrelevant. They thought he was a British spy. They were wrong.

Indeed they were wrong. And so were the Americans, but you have not got the honesty to say so.

How can you be an "illegal combatant" for AQ or anyone else when you have been put in prison by the Taleban?

That's just dumb.

I wonder how many other cases the Americans are wrong about in Guantanamo Bay?

Posted by: Benjamin at January 11, 2005 08:07 PM

Benjamin,

we'll they let him go didn't they? so what are you still crying about.

If it were left up to the peaceniks, he'd still be rotting as a British spy in a Taleban prison. (But I have a sneaking suspicion that wouldn't bother you as much.) Your "outrage" is very targeted as I can see.

So when the goofball finally sets feet on British soil again, he can thank Uncle Sam, not the peaceniks. Don't forget, if Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under
Taliban rule, and your buddy would still be rotting there.

The lies of Michael Moore.
http://slate.msn.com/id/2102723/

Posted by: David at January 11, 2005 08:23 PM

Achillea,

While I normally agree with you, Tosk,

What a bad idea! ;-)

I think you're off-base here. Religious fruitcakes like OBL don't realize they're overmatched. They figure they have the ultimate ally -- God. They honestly think that their holy warriors will triumph militarily over the infidels.

Good point, and you may well be right. However, I don't know that we have enough evidence to support either side yet (and that was the point of my post). We assume that OBL is a crazy madman, just itching to engage the infidel. Yet, we have no evidence that he has ever used these sort of tactics before. Even during the 80's when he was a popular (and rich) figure in Afganistan's mujahedeen, neither he nor his men did much fighting. Most of the foot soliders sent after the Soviets were... local recruits. Bin Laden was trained extensively by the CIA. Perhaps he has forgotten his training through adnvanced megalomania, perhaps not. He spent years hiding from the Soviets, organizing the locals to actually attack. However, in my research, I have yet to find any reference to any point in time when Bin Laden tried using superior force, or even direct engagement of the enemy to win a battle.

His history has always seemed to be one of strike and hide. If Zarqawi is killed, I think he may become a martyr and OBL will have more recruiting power. If Zarqawi is captured, I am not sure that it will be a devastating blow for OBL. After all, its not like he's anything more than a johnny-come-lately who decided to grab onto the fringe of Osama's robe. He's a tool, I think, and if a tool becomes unusable, you just get a new one.

Again, this could all be wrong. I am only working off of historical data and I have no insight to the current state of OBL's brain (perhaps years in the caves have driven him 'batty'). I do think that OBL taking a 'hands-off' approach to Iraq is 'as' likely as OBL being fully engaged in Iraq.

At the end of the day, we just don't know. We don't know if AQ is attacking us with everythign they've got, or if they're laying in wait. We just don't know. My post was a counterpoint to the many posts here that seem to assume that we're already seeing the worst that we will see. I think that may be naïve.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 12, 2005 07:26 AM

Benjamin,

Your kneejerk lib reaction to David's reactionary statements is a very telltale sign of your inability to objectively assess the true nature of what's taking place among American and European populations.

Like it or not immigrants are to embrace, enhance and accept the societies and cultures they choose to join, be they British, American, French or what have you. If they refuse to assimilate then they alientate themselves and justify their rejection by the greater society as a whole. Little more than a century ago my relatives did this and today we are Judges, Lawyers, Businessmen, Police Officers, Nurses and more.

The fact remains that the muslim immigrant populations are agitating their host nations and are refusing to integrate. Take for instance the degree of difficulty the Indian immigrant population to the United States is or is not having compared to that of the Middle Eastern immigrant population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 data, the Indian population in the U.S. grew at a rate of more than 51.2% as compared to the M.E. immigrant population. However, they have managed to intigrate and augment our society while the latter has only segregated itself and antagonized the greater society.

If they refuse to accept modernity and Western Civilization then they should remain in their putrid, and stagnant societies and enjoy all that they have to offer.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 07:48 AM

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 data, the Indian population in the U.S. grew at a rate of more than 51.2% as compared to the M.E. immigrant population.

That's 51.2% more as compared to the Middle Eastern immigrant population.

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 07:51 AM

"Your kneejerk lib reaction to David's reactionary statements is a very telltale sign of your inability to objectively assess the true nature of what's taking place among American and European populations."

It also overlooks a (non-violent) strategy for Islamic dominance which has been stated many times, even by prominent Muslim figures in the US: move to the west, reproduce, and take advantage of both the democratic process as well as the liberalism of the west (e.g. political correctness) to bring about Islamic dominance (e.g. Sharia). There is also the history of Muhammed himself - make nice when in the minority and relatively powerless - then all out war once in a position of strength. There is also Taqiyya (spelling?) - which makes deceit and lying acceptable in achieving the goal (as in Arafat saying one thing to the west and something different in Arabic, imams sugarcoating Islam itself etc). While Michael may think that the concept of Eurabia is overwrought and hysterical, it is equally kneejerk to keep stating that Islam is a religion of peace, as if one is either an active jihadist or a peace-lover. How to account for the silence among the supposedly "moderate" majority of Muslims in the face of so many jihadist atrocities? I assume most people at this site read jihadwatch.com (as well as dhimmiwatch) daily. If not - I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Caroline at January 12, 2005 09:27 AM

Kay,

You make a good point and I hope you are right about OBL. Nevertheless, I still think they are in fact incompetent at human intelligence. From the Wilson fiasco to the WMD fiasco, they are not exactly proving reliable. Let's use the the August 6, 2001, classified but leaked CIA "Presidential Daily Brief" as an example. Nearly all the information from this briefing for the President of the United States came from television shows and foreign intelligence services. What were its top piece of "classified" "intelligence?" "Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 'bring the fighting to America'." The CIA thinks deep cover means wearing a blanket while sitting on the couch watching the news.

The CIA ended the briefing on a reassuring note: "The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related." False. The FBI only had a couple dozen "open cases" vaguely bin Laden-related. The CIA did not even know what the FBI was doing!

I rest my case.

Posted by: JBP at January 12, 2005 03:25 PM

Mike

guffaw

Those terrible Muslims!!

Your sky-is-about-to-fall rhetoric is highly amusing.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 12, 2005 07:13 PM

Mike

guffaw

Those terrible Muslims!!

Your sky-is-about-to-fall rhetoric is highly amusing.

Thank you for proving my point. Need I say more?

Posted by: Mike at January 12, 2005 08:53 PM

Not to belabor my earlier speculation, but news reports last evening and this morning were interesting.

NPR, on the way home had a piece about the Iraqi Insrgency, where the reported stated that US Intelligence Officials "increasingly see the movement largely as a Sunni uprising".

The story, unfortunately, doesn't directly quote many specific individuals, so I've had some trouble following up on it. However, The Globe and Mail reported today that If the insurgency has a brain, U.S. and Iraqi officials increasingly say, it comes from those well-trained Baathist intelligence operatives... nterior Ministry officials say there are as many as 10,000 of them."

I am uncomfortable putting any faith in news stories without direct, identifiable quotes. These quotes may be out of context, they may be spun or biased. However, if they're true (and if you have the inclination to hunt for the original quotes I'd love the assistance), then we may not be fighting Bin Laden's Terrorists after all. If not, one would have to wonder what they're up to.

Let me know if anyone finds where these quotes probably came from.

Thanks,

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 13, 2005 09:19 AM

There is also a similar report about the Insurgency at http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-baath11jan11,0,3100033.story?coll=ny-leadworldnews-headlines. It was apparently an LA Times article reprint. However, there are some interesting statements (which I would love to have the full context of):

1. U.S. military commanders say a new assessment of the Iraqi insurgency has led them to focus on 34 former Baath Party leaders who they believe are financing and directing attacks against American troops and their allies.

2. Army Gen. John P. Abizaid and other senior Defense officials interviewed in Iraq said much of the insurgent violence was being carried out by a network of regional cells that loosely coordinate their operations with former officials of Saddam Hussein's ruling party.

3. U.S. military officials say recent evidence suggested that former members of Hussein's elite fighting units have been involved in attacks on U.S. troops.

4. U.S. military officials say the insurgency appears to lack a central leader, although they believe that former Gen. Izzat Ibrahim, one of Hussein's top aides, has directed many attacks against the U.S.-led coalition in the Tikrit area.

5. The Baathist leaders are believed to be financing the insurgency with billions of dollars that Hussein officials allegedly grabbed from government coffers in the final days before the government fell, officials said.

6.
It remains unclear exactly how closely the Baathist-led groups coordinate with foreign Islamic extremists such as Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has proclaimed himself the leader of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization in Iraq. But the two groups are believed to communicate and work together at least loosely in what officials describe as a temporary marriage of convenience.

Based on these statements (if they pass the 'spin' test), I would have to say that it appears as though Al Qaeda is not throwing everything it has at us, in fact, it may be doing nothing more than goading the insurgents with the odd video here and there.

I hope I'm wrong,

Ratatosk

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